“I can’t believe I graduated,” Jasmine said, astonished. “At first, when I got here, I was so scared. Eighteen months seemed way too long; I thought I wouldn’t graduate. I thought I couldn’t do it.”
Last June, 26 young adults with disabilities crossed the stage for the 41st annual Center for Higher Independence graduation ceremony. It was the largest graduating class in the past 10 years and this year, for the first time, 80 percent of the graduates have a job. Jasmine is one of the graduates.When she was in her hometown in Harker Heights, Texas she was bored and didn’t think she could get a job or become successful. It was a very anxious time of her life and her confidence level was very low.
She heard of Providence Place through her Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) counselor, who tried to motivate her to become independent. She was very excited at first, but then became terrified by the idea that she was going to have to leave her home, her mother and sisters to go to a town she didn’t know, surrounded by strangers.
“It was hard at the beginning because I was away from my family and everything was new to me,” remembered Jasmine. “But my roommate was nice to me, she introduced me to other students and I made a couple of friends who were very supportive and that truly helped.”
Jasmine progressed fast and enjoyed her classes, especially her culinary class. Because of this particular class, she opened up, and her confidence grew. She started to have dreams of careers and began to believe she could accomplish anything.
Soon afterwards, she started her first job as a busser at Pollo Tropical. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a first job experience. Then, she started to work at Allen Tharp LLC, food service contractor at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and she found it a much better fit.
“I like it even though it’s challenging to me,” said Jasmine. “I don’t really like not mastering something and I can do anything and everything there. Usually, it’s hard when I get a new assignment, but once I get the hang of it, it’s easy.”
Jasmine has to adapt to a very fast-paced environment because the soldiers all come to eat at once. It is difficult for her, but she works very hard and does well. In fact, Jasmine now has her own apartment at the Transitional Center on Providence Place campus.
“Now, I have my own apartment, I have a job, and I spoke in front of 200 people during graduation. I guess I grew up,” Jasmine said, smiling, her expressive eyes shining.
Looking forward, Jasmine doesn’t know yet what she wants to do. Go home? Change her career?
One thing is sure, rather than fear what is ahead, Jasmine is embracing her future with eagerness and excitement.